Today was not a great day.
I woke up this morning to find that my home had been broken into while I was asleep.
Here’s what they took:
- A laptop (yes, they took the power adapter, the modem… and even the poor mouse, but no, they weren’t interested in my older desktop PC, which was next to it);
- Wallet with around RM600 in cash (of which RM500 was actually donations passed to me to hand over to Aliran for its 30th anniversary dinner), identity card, driving licence, bank cards (not just mine but family members’ as well);
- Computer case with thumbdrive and bank pass books inside;
Total loss: close to RM4,000. And, oh, what a hassle, all those cards gone.
Whoever it was must have been pretty desperate to break into my home as there really wasn’t much else to take.
It wasn’t a great feeling to be stripped bare, so to speak. Almost state-less and identity-less. But suddenly, I felt a lot lighter too. It was strange not feeling a wallet and handphone in my pocket – at the same time, it felt inexplicably liberating too.
But I was stranded. Not a single sen on myself. I couldn’t even go to the bank to withdraw any money as it was a weekend. Moreover, my ATM card had been stolen. Even if the banks were open, I didn’t have any IC either to show the teller staff for identity verification.
Here, I must thank those two guardian angels who materialised while I was in a daze and thrust cash into my hands to tide me over the next few days without my having to ask. You know who you are. Thanks again.
I trudged to the nearest police neighbourhood beat base, which was built a couple of years ago. But I rarely see anyone staffing it of late, and today was no different.
So I headed for the nearest police station to lodge a report, feeling very sorry for myself. Quite a few people were already there waiting for their turn to make a report. In the time I was there, I heard them making reports for:
- a snatch theft
- harassment by an “Ah Long” (loan shark). Apparently the Ah Long had demanded RM900 a day in interest, failing which he would “kerjakan” the hapless victim.
- an assault by unknown people.
I thought I was having a dreadful day – until I saw him. The snatch thief suspect, who had been apprehended, crouched behind bars in the police lock-up, largely hidden from public view. I gazed at him and he looked back, a gaunt pitiful look. With his moustache, he looked around 40, perhaps older than his real age, and weary, a lost look in his eyes.
I wondered who his family was and what had happened to his parents and his siblings. Surely, when he was a child, he must have had parents who had dreams for his future. How would they feel if they could see him now in this state, I wondered. What had he gone through in his life for him to land up in this predicament. Suddenly I realised I did not know what “going through a rough time” meant.
I heard the couple, who had complained about the harassment from the Ah Long, telling the cop, “This has been a bad time for us.”
They say God acts in mysterious ways and, sometimes, speaks through the most unexpected channels. The cop replied philosophically, “Sometimes God sends us these things as trials to test us and draw us closer to him.”
He had a point – though coming from a cop, it sounded somewhat surreal.
Musa Hassan stared at me from a portrait on the wall.
I asked a friendly looking cop whether house break-ins were a common occurrence.”Well,” he replied, “today, we have had three cases so far in this area.”
That set me thinking about the crime rate, which appears to be rising by most anecdotal accounts. Could it have something to do with the fact that the gap between the rich and the poor in Malaysia is among the widest in the region – prompting some people to take short cuts, even if illegal, to narrow the gap in the only way they know how?
Or are people just taking the cue from the lack of integrity and accountability at the highest levels, when they see all those financial scandals and the crony capitalism around them? You know, the attitude that says, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”
Or is it some combination of both?